Wednesday, November 21, 2007

THE END

I think that we have finally reached the end of our nice weather. It was wonderful while it lasted, but it is the end of November, and time for the cold weather to stay. This season sure went fast! Since this is my first year at blogging, it will be fun to look back to the Spring posts, now that it is cold, and relive those days, until they are finally back next Spring.
I did manage to get my garlic planted on Tuesday afternoon. I knew that the weather was going to change on Wednesday, and even though I don't mind cleaning up beds when it is cold, I don't like digging in wet soil and planting. And we do have wet soil! I think we have got close to 2 inches of rain today.
The picture above is the garlic split apart and ready to plant. I planted two different varieties, one was Inchelium Red, a softneck variety, and the other, Chesnok Red a hardneck variety. I ordered my garlic from Seeds of Change. It was a little pricey, but was grown organically, and that is what I wanted. Plus, I ordered late, and many companies were out of the varieties that I wanted.
I am trying the no till method of gardening, so I raked back the straw in the bed, and dug the holes with a small trowel. Then I covered the bed with compost, and a little bit of organic fertilizer, and covered the whole thing with mulched leaves. It has been a long time since I have grown garlic, so I thought that I would give it a try. It is kind of like starting the Spring planting season early. I feel like I am ahead of the game, having my first crop for next year planted already.
I was amazed when I started digging at how many earthworms that I found. Large ones, and baby ones. I don't ever remember seeing that many when I planted. I have to believe that it is because of the way that I planted the garden this year. I tilled it in the Spring, planted, and then placed straw around the plants. I couldn't believe how much difference a few inches of straw made in the garden. I had very few weeds, did not have to water as often, and now all of these earthworms. I think that I have found the method of gardening that I will be using from now on. Since I read the book, "Teaming With Microbes", (well, I didn't really read it, I kind of scanned it, but I do intend to read it eventually), I learned about the damage that you can do to soil when you till it. And after seeing all of those earthworms, I am beginning to believe it.
Well, I do hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow. I hope that there is something on your table from your garden. That always makes it special. I also hope that you are able to spend it with the people that you care about, and the people that care about you. I have begun to see that it really doesn't matter whether you are with family or friends. What matters is that, if possible, you are with the people that you care most about in the world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

FALL CLEANUP

What a beautiful day! I had to travel to Indy this morning to pick up some trees for a job, but got back home just after lunch. There is still so much to do outside that I didn't know where to start.
I decided to start on a shrub bed at the front of the property. I like to start my fall cleanup near the house, and work my way towards the back gardens, so that if I don't get all of the beds done, I won't have to look at the unfinished ones all winter.
Then I decided that I better get in all of the bird baths, and other paraphernalia that I scatter around the beds in the Spring. It never seems like much when you put it out, but when your putting that stuff away, it takes forever!
Tomorrow is supposed to be pretty nice also, so I hope to finish up the beds near the house, get my garlic planted, get all of the annual pots put away, and maybe my patio furniture put up. I don't like working on Sunday, but I hope that God will forgive me, seeing how we have a chance of snow on Thanksgiving day, and I am running out of time.
I still have a few trees in my lawn that are holding on to their leaves, so I hope we still have some good weather after Thanksgiving, to clean up those leaves when they fall.
The picture above is the Sweet Gum tree in our back yard. It was the first tree we planted when we moved here 17 years ago, and probably not the best choice for this location. I do love the tree, and it had pretty good fall color, but if you have ever had a Sweet Gum, you know about the "porcupine balls". These spiny little balls are about the size of a cherry tomato, but that is where the similarity ends. These little guys are hard and prickly so you wouldn't want to step on one with your bare feet. As the tree gets larger, there are many more of them. I have seen the ground under some trees completely covered by them. My tree has never been much of a problem, but it is starting to get pretty large, so I don't know how bad they will be in the future. We usually just vacuum them up with the mower, but I expect that some day, after there are more of them to deal with, we will have to come up with another plan. A leaf blower also works pretty well, but I am sure as there are more and more of them, that will probably not work either. Some people use the little balls for craft projects, but I am not very crafty, so they will end up in the compost pile.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I MISSED IT!

I don't know how many of you have a Ginko tree's, but if you do, you know what I missed. In the fall, the leaves of the tree turn a pretty yellow. But there is one difference between Ginko's and other tree's. Most tree's drop their leaves over a period of a couple of weeks. Ginko tree's drop their leaves all at once. My Ginko was beautiful one day, and bare the next. This is nice if you don't like to cleanup leaves every other day during the fall season. With Ginko's, you only have to cleanup leaves once.
I have two Ginko tree's in my yard. One is in the herb garden, and one is near my new patio. They are a wonderful tree, but you have to be watchful in the fall, or you will miss all the action.
I don't know if any of you treat your evergreens in the fall with anti-transparent, but it is a good thing to do. What this product does for an evergreen, is to seal the leaves so that they don't lose moisture through the leaves, over the winter. It acts like a kind of "glue" on the leaves. Most evergreens are lost during the winter, because the air is dry, and winter winds pull the moisture out of the leaves. If the soil around the plant also goes into winter on the dry side, the evergreen will have a hard time surviving. Even if it is not killed, it can be burned by the cold winds. Most in danger are small, or newly planted evergreens. I usually don't worry about established evergreens, but azaleas, boxwood, rhododendron's, all should be treated.
The product that I use is called Wilt-Pruf. It comes in an aerosol spray can, or you can buy it in a quart or gallon size, and mix it yourself. I always go around in the fall, and spray the evergreens in all of the landscapes that I have done over the summer, and rarely lose any plants, if this is done. You can also treat you live or cut Christmas tree before bringing into the dry air of your home. The picture above is a heather that was planted earlier this Spring. When you spray the plant it looks like you have spray painted the plant white. It will dry to a clear, shiny finish. A one time spray will last all winter, but it must be applied while temperatures are above freezing.
You can find Wilt-Pruf at most garden centers or home stores.

Friday, November 9, 2007

MAJOR PRUNING

This is the time of year when I do my major pruning. After the trees have dropped their leaves, it is much easier to trim them. I didn't plan to do any pruning today. I headed to my truck this morning to go finish a couple of jobs that I had started last week. Mainly just trimming back perennials in two of my favorite customers yards. I usually try to save Friday for this kind of thing. I figured that I could do what I had to do, and still get home and get a little work done in my own garden.
But, as fate would have it, my truck wouldn't start. Bummer, I would have to spend the entire day in my own garden. You can imagine how broken hearted I was! ;)
So first I tackled my Tanyosho Pine. I planted this pine 10 years ago, and it has done very well, but over the years it had accumulated a lot of dead wood, and large amounts of pine needles would accumulate where the branches come together at the base of the plant. I trimmed out all dead wood, and any branches that were crossing each other. I had not planned to do this when I started out front, so I don't have a before picture, but you could not see through it before I started, it was that thick with branches and needles.
Now I was on a roll. So I started in on the Sargent Crab tree. It didn't need much, because I keep after it, usually touching it up each fall. But
it had a few suckers, and my husband informed
me that it was getting very difficult to hang the
Christmas lights because it was growing
back towards the house, so I spent about an hour
shaping it up. It is so much easier to prune deciduous trees in the fall, because you can see exactly what you are doing, without all of those leaves in the way.
So now I have tomorrow to get the perennials trimmed off. I tend to move from bed to bed, instead of jumping around, usually starting in front of the house, and working my way to the back beds. I did divide a few perennials, and dig out a old spirea that wasn't doing well, in the bed that the Tanyosho pine is in. I couldn't believe how dry it was. So, after I finish the work in each bed, I water them well. Hopefully we will get the rain that is forecast for Monday.
I also want to share a picture of my 'miracle tree'. This tree was put in shortly after we moved here 17 years ago. When my Son was about 10 years old he was speeding around in my golf cart, and ran over the tree, taking it flat to the ground. My husband declared that we might as well pull it out, because there was no way that it could survive that. It was pretty beat up, but I decided that we would give it a chance, and I pulled it back up straight and staked it. There have been many times over the years that we have commented about how tough trees are, and how destructive kids are! The story has been told many times, especially by anyone commenting on how pretty the tree is. My Son has never forgotten the incident, and at graduation time, had some of his pictures taken under the tree.
It is now one of my favorite trees on our property.

Friday, November 2, 2007

MY BABY

This is the first time that I have written a non-gardening blog, so you will have to bear with me just this once.
My baby turned 21 years old today. It seems like only yesterday that he was this sweet little thing. I can't stress enough to parents with small children-let everything else go, and just enjoy them while they are young. It goes so fast. While you are raising them you never think that it will end, but all of a sudden they have grown up, and all you want to do is just stop and say, "wait, I want to play a few of those years over again!".
My baby is an only child, and I think this makes it even harder. Every event in their life is the only time you will experience whatever it is, so you tend to make a big deal out of all of them. Every birthday, every school function, and so on.
Tonight we celebrated number 21 like we have celebrated all of the other ones, with a bonfire, and lots of family and friends. Sometimes we have linked the birthday and Halloween together, and dressed up in costumes. Sometimes the weather has forced us into the garage, out of the cold, wind, or rain. But this year we had perfect weather. We cooked hot dogs, and s'mores over the fire, and set up tables in the garage for everyone to sit, eat, and visit.
I have always hoped that my Son would share my love of nature and gardening. When he was a little boy, I would drive him to the babysitter, and on the way we would play the Spirea game. The game could only be played in the Spring, and the rules were that whoever spotted the Spirea in bloom first would yell out, "SPIREA", and the winner was whichever of us had the most when we got to our destination. We had such fun playing that game, and to this day, in the Spring, if we are driving someplace together, he will often yell out "SPIREA" if he spots one in bloom, before I can see it and claim it.
But at 21 years old, the last thing on his mind, is gardening and plants. Music, his guitar, and his vehicles are his passions. He does work in our business, but I do not see the passion that his Father and I have for it. That's OK, but I do hope someday he will know the value in growing his own food, and gardening just for the enjoyment that we gardeners get from watching plants grow.
Just last weekend he was the music coordinator and driver for the wedding of his newly married cousin. He drove them around town in his 1930 Model A, that he is so proud of. He has grown into a very fine young man.
He is kind, has a genuine love for his family, and a great loyalty to his friends. He has a deep love for God, and is very happy to share his faith with others.
I am proud to be his Mother.